New mobile age drives travel bookings

WTTC experts say business must respond to trends in mobile usage

Leisure, Opinion, Research, Travel, Attractions, Comment & analysis, Data, Owners, Experts, Facebook, Mobile marketing, Panel, Technology, Technology trends, Wttc

Digital-savvy consumers glued to their smart phones will transform the way the travel industry does business.

That was the verdict of a panel of technology experts speaking at the Technology Session at the two-day World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) 13th Global Summit 2013, which concluded 10 April at Jumierah Eithad Towers, Abu Dhabi.

Session moderator, Caroll Rheem, principal analyst at market research company PhoCusWright coined the term ‘splinternet’ to describe new accessibility to multiple devices and the way in which consumers now hop from computer to tablet to mobile phone and back again. “With every click, tap, purchase and abandon, consumers are telling us exactly what they want but we are only just now beginning to listen,” she stated.

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Mobile phones are likely to be the focus for new technology as figures from travel-search website Qunar revealed a spike in mobile usage, claimed to be six times that of the internet in the world’s most populous nations with over 200 million mobile users in China alone.

Half of all traffic to travel websites will originate from mobiles by the end of 2014, generating US$26 billion in bookings according to Charles Armstrong, Founder and CEO of TourWrist who underlined the need for interactive and personalised technology such as its 360-degree panoramic experiences replacing outdated virtual tours, which he claimed, could increase online bookings by 67%.

Facebook’s global head of travel, Lee McCabe, revealed that viewing vacation images through social media sites was the catalyst for future travel plans for 25% of its users with 11% booking their next trip to the place eyed in the image. Smart phone usage is now 25% for Facebook and Instagram, 10% more than calling or texting and nearly 10% of sales in the US this year is predicted to be via mobile technology.

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